Friday, June 02, 2006

My Word, They're Smart

Hmmm, I thought I knew English quite well. Now I am in doubt. Last night sitting with my 14 & 16 yr. old, flipping thru channels trying to find something we could all agree on, we came upon a group of 13 and 14 year olds all dressed in white shirts. One at a time was coming up to the mike and given a word to spell. I thought we had hit upon a foreign language channel. But the symbol in the corner said ABC, and the announcer was giving the definitions in English. We sat in taciturnity (that means speechlessness, by the way, and that's the kind of words they were getting except harder). One after another these young people would come up and spell words I had never in my life heard of, and I've been here a while and done plenty of reading. Even my 16 yr. old was amazed at these kids.

Can you believe this competition had two teenagers sitting watching, interested? Who'd a thought? Was it the draw of the strange words that were being passed off as English, or the spirit of competativeness? Or could it have been that a young lady by the name of Finola Hackett was in the final 10 and lo and behold she was from our province. We watched in wonderment as one by one these kids spelled word after word and one by one the group got smaller as a misspell was made. At one point they reinstated a young girl after they realized that she had spelled the word correctly, the judges had it wrong. Let me pick my jaw off the floor!

Finola made it to the final two! A Canadian to the final two! Well, this was like the Stanley Cup! We cheered her on! We held our breath as she started each word. Back and forth Katherine Close and Finola went with words such as tutoyer and weltschmerz. Weltschmerz? What the heck is a weltschmerz? I dare you to use it in a sentence! Alas, that is the word that did our little Canadian in. She said "v" instead of "w". Katherine spelled her next two words correctly and is now the 2006 champion!

All I can say is "Wow" and congratulations to Katherine, and to Finola, and all the others who competed in this nerve racking competition. You all were great competitors, amazing spellers, and handled your win and losses with absolute grace. It was a pleasure to watch.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm gonna go read my dictionary and see what word I can up with for tomorrow to stump you all.


Heather Smith said...

Yeah, we watched a bit of that at lunch yesterday. Those kids are geniuses. Geniuses I tell ya!! I'm so glad you are blogging now! So exciting!! Have a good one!

Susanne said...

Heather: Thanks so much. And aren't those kids amazing?

Addie said...

I wanted to watch that, but was home alone with three little kids. So really, what was the point of even trying.

Great play by play! I got excited just reading about it! :-)

Susanne said...

Addie: Isn't is strange to be able say you can do a play by play and be excited about a spelling bee, of all things? But I'm telling you it was mesmerizing!

Islandsparrow said...

Our little neightbour was in that competition- she made it through the written part but went out on the first round. She had to spell Wenzel - I'm an English major and I've never even heard of it!

Susanne said...

islandsparrow: There was only 4 Canadians in the whole competition out of 275 and you know one of them. Cool! She's gotta be a pretty amazing speller to get that far!!